The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

The column in the Place Vendôme

The column in the Place Vendôme

The column in the place Vendôme was erected by the first Napoleon to celebrate the victory of Austerlitz. Modelled after Trajan's Column in Rome, its spiraling bas-relief bronze plates were made out of cannon taken from the combined armies of Europe.

During the last days of the Paris Commune (on 8 May 1871) the column was pulled down, since it was deemed a commemoration of the wars and conquests of the Imperial dynasty. The bronze plates, however, were preserved and the column subsequently reconstructed, following the fall of the Commune.

One of the first people to propose its destruction had been the artist Gustave Courbet. He was tried and sentenced to pay a part of the cost of the column's reconstruction. The fine would have ruined him had he not died the week before the first installment came due.

Photographer unidentified.


Code: 124951
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© Paul Frecker 2019